The genesis of fielding placement names


07 Jun 2017

How did the cricketing fielding positions get their names?

Cricket is almost followed as a religion in our country, and is one of the most loved sports in the world.

However, we do not know much on why a particular fielding position in cricket is called the way it is.

Let us have a comprehensive look at how the fielding positions got their rather 'unusual' but logical names.

The basics

'Leg' and 'off' side of the field

'Leg' and 'off' side of the field

The terms 'off-side' and 'leg-side' got their names in the 19th century, when travel was done through carriages.

Off-side was referred to as the side from where rider would mount the carriage, while 'leg-side' was the near side.

Thus, a batsman plays on the off-side when he plays away from his leg, and on the leg-side, if he plays near to the leg.

'Point' or 'point of the bat'

When the 'point' fielding position came into existence it was called 'near the point of the bat.' This suggests that the fielder at point was quite close to the batsman in early days, unlike now, when we see the 'point' at edge of the circle.

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Slips and gully

Fielders close to the batsmen

The 'slip' got its name after the captains started placing a fielder besides the wicket-keeper to take advantage of any 'slip' (or mistake) by the batsman.

'Gully' means a narrow channel and the fielder was placed there to get hold of the ball passing through a 'narrow' gap between the slips and the point position. It eventually became one of the important catching positions.

Cover Position

Traditionally a fielder placed 'to cover the point and middle wicket' was called a 'cover.' However, another explanation for genesis of this name is that a fielder placed at the cover position is near the place where pitch covers are placed.

The middle fielders

'Mid-on' and 'mid-off'

'Mid-on' and 'mid-off'

Initially known as the 'middle wicket on' and 'middle wicket off', the 'mid-wicket' was a player positioned between extra cover and the bowler on either sides of the wicket.

'Off' and 'on' were suffixed on the basis of which side the fielder was positioned.

The 'long-on' and 'long-off' are similar to mid-on and mid-off, only difference being they are placed nearer to the boundary.


Position in front of the batsman on the off side, the position got its name as it was 'silly' to stand so close to the batsmen.

Square leg

A fielder positioned perpendicular to the pitch and on the leg side of the batsman is placed at square-leg. The position got its name with 'square' meaning nearer to the line of crease.

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